Diagonal cracks ceiling and walls - 100 year old property, advice?

Discussion in 'Building' started by furrykake, 27 Aug 2021.

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  1. furrykake

    furrykake

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    Hello. We are purchasing an Edwardian flat in a share of freehold situation. The other flat (1st) has some long cracks that span the entire doorframe - diagonal across ceiling - corner of door in one area and long dispersed cracks on the ceiling in others. The co-freeholders appear to think it's not a serious problem, but these gaps look sinister. Any advice please?
     

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  3. Notch7

    Notch7

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    Are there any cracks externally?

    the images could be the result of foundation movement, it’s hard to know.

    Given it’s a hundred years old, I’d guess it’s not settlement, but more recent settlement, movement, shrinkage.

    Edwardian houses can have just spread footing, sometimes just on clinker. But there is a difference between settlement / movement and subsidence and you probably need a full survey to find out (although they can be awfully vague and these days mostly used as a bargaining tool)
     
  4. furrykake

    furrykake

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    No cracks externally near these cracks, but one side wall has evidence of bracing support and the other side wall has some vertical long cracks and signs of some buckling?
     
  5. KenGMac

    KenGMac

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    furrykake, good evening.

    Difficult to even guess at what is going on? the door vertical crack could be the door slamming

    The diagonal wall crack and associated ceiling crack is a possible issue, as far as I can see the remaining images are of cracked old original Lath and Plaster??

    From your second post, the [historic] bracing supports? are they circular cast iron?? and your description of the wall " buckling" could indicate Subsidence or, that the wall is bulging, possibly not occasioned by Subsidence?? Bulging of walls, especially solid 9 Inch brickwork, and up here in Scotland masonry tenements, is generally referred to as Lateral Stability.

    Any idea what sort of soil the property is built on?

    Remember the vendor must disclose any issues such as Subsidence??

    Ken.
     
  6. furrykake

    furrykake

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    Thanks for your opinion @KenGMac
    This is in London so clay subsoil. We've been given a lot sweet words from vendors but are having some suspicions about their trustworthyness. The builders who came by pointed out some horizontal structures placed in between the brickwork (I forget the term they used and am new to all this) maybe bracing was not the correct word. They mentioned that two of these walls may be buckling because they are not structurally supported and may need wall ties or similar?
    Quite confused at not sure whether to proceed or abort at this point!
     
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  8. KenGMac

    KenGMac

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    Was it "HELIBAR"? by any chance?? Long, well over a meter long strips of newish mortar ?

    If so the alarm bells should begin to sound,

    Or was the Phrase used by the builder ? was it "Retro- fitted wall ties [small circular holes covered over with sand cement?

    If possible interrogate the vendor, i would be very, very cautious about this property, it has [obviously] moved historically but the causation could be Subsidence or as above a lateral stability issue.

    Now thinking ahead? if you purchase the property, your insurer will NOT cover lateral stability, there are specific Exclusions in ALL policies as regards this type of defect.

    As for Subsidence [in the above scenario] Your Insurer will NOT cover repair costs because of the Exclusion clause [again] in all Policies "Pre-Existing" issues.

    And [not a lot of people know this] if the property has / was the subject of a previous insurance Claim, no matter what insurer was on cover, the fact that a Subsidence Claim was made on the property will have been "logged / registered" with that Company, so a historic register of the property being the subject of a previous claim will be available to the insurer you want to get cover from.

    As above "Alarm bells Sounding"

    Ken.
     
  9. furrykake

    furrykake

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    Yeah Helibar sounds right on the north wall, 1m+ long and embedded behind pointing. This was installed many years ago apparently and the builders weren't too concerned about it.
    On the south wall there were the long vertical cracks and there they recommended wall ties, they were much more concerned about this.

    Seems like both of them ring alarm bells? Does this sound like lateral stability?
     
  10. KenGMac

    KenGMac

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    furrykake, good evening, again.

    As for the vertical cracks? do they run towards a chimney? from a fireplace? is so that is a different Issue, that could be Sulphate attack??

    Really sorry but it is not easy trying to give unbiased advice from about 250 + + + Miles distant?? with three differing prognosis going on, Subsidence / Lateral Stability / Sulphate Attack

    OK at times in a cavity brick wall, back in the day, the wall ties were galvanised steel, over time the steel corrodes / rusts / fails, the result is that the two leaves of the wall spread apart [the wall bulges] the remedy is to install specialist new wall ties made of [generally] stainless steel, the installation of the new wall ties will stabilise, that is to lock the wall in to its deformed shape where these new ties are inserted.

    Ken.
     
  11. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    There is too much going on there and it could be one of several things or a combination. Get it surveyed by a structural engineer, not builders.
     
  12. sxturbo

    sxturbo

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    Walk away save your wallet and mind.

    There will be other places.
     
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